Joe’s Weather Blog: The 2016-17 Fox 4 Winter Forecast (WED-11/23)

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Well once again it’s time for the annual FOX 4 Winter Forecast ritual. It’s funny…rarely do people ask meteorologists what sort of spring will we have…or will it be a nice fall. Almost everyone though asks us about our thoughts concerning the winter to come. We’ve done these for years at FOX 4 to varying mounts of success and in some cases to total flame outs (I’m speaking about yours truly). They are what they are…educated guesses about things that don’t exist and may not exist for months to come. Wrap your mind around that concept. The people have spoken (you) and you want our thoughts about the winter ahead.

Personally I’m more than happy to oblige since snow forecasting is one of the toughest and yet most rewarding things I do on the air. It’s my favorite type of weather after those perfect fall days that we’ve enjoyed for so long this fall. Other meteorologists hate winter. Mike, for example, hates the cold and the snow. I’ll admit that those big winters a couple years ago were fine…but I was done with the snow after awhile too…and ready for the oncoming spring.

This blog is a place for snow enthusiasts…BUT as you know I won’t hype a potential snowstorm. I don’t have to hype any type of weather…it’s NEVER been my approach. Why? Well Mother Nature does the talking when it comes to snow…and at least around KC for the last couple of years…she’s been whispering a LOT.

The buildup to a snowstorm is something to watch. First I’ll reference a storm 7-10 days away that bears watching in the weather blog. Or perhaps I can see a pattern developing that could become favorable for “something”. Sometimes the players are on the field…like a few years ago..other times there are no players to be found…or we’re missing a key player like last year (the storms were there but the cold air was never there). Then as we get closer the “rumors” start about how much may come. Some person will say “I heard that ___ said we were going to get 1 million inches…is that right?” I’ve seen MANY forecasts from meteorologists from several days out go up in the smoke of over-confidence and yes…hype. I just won’t play that game. Mother Nature and the powers above know the cards to be dealt before we get to the poker table. Our job is to try to predict things when they may or may not exist and frankly we sometimes don’t know till hours before a storm hits what may happen. Add into that all the changes a storm goes through as it approaches the area…and then the sometimes wishy-washy nature of the atmosphere above us holding onto sub-freezing temperatures sometimes and you can see how things can blow up in our faces pretty quickly.

My job, especially on the blog,  is also to write about the good forecasts and the bad forecasts by yours truly. What I won’t do is tell you “I was right” when I wasn’t. There are some who do that…I won’t. You deserve better. I won’t say “but at least it snowed” when 10″ was the forecast (and we got a dusting). Again you deserve better.

Last winter we forecast as a team 16″ or so…we ended up with less than 6″. We had the right idea with somewhat below average snow trends…but we weren’t nearly as pessimistic as we could’ve been. Points for being on the right side of the trend…big demerits for being off by almost 10″. In re-reading that winter forecast blog from last year…in the end when I was summarizing my thoughts…it actually was a pretty decent forecast…but the snow numbers that are the most important were too far off!

So with that out of the way…let’s proceed.

I may write more about my personal thoughts and get a bit more technical this weekend about the Winter Forecast…but I know most of you want the the straight information. In previous years I’d combine both blogs into one giant missive of 3000+ words…let’s keep this one simpler for now.

From Karli..



From Michelle…



From Mike…



and finally from yours truly…



So what we do as a team is then combine the forecast numbers together to come up with our team forecast.


Now some details…

Our average winter snow is about 18″ these days.

There is no doubt that the last couple of years have been “lacking” to say the least. Last year was awful.

So the team overall is predicting above average snow totals…Mike though thinks less snow than typical again. I will admit I was strongly leaning in that direction as a 1st instinct a couple of weeks ago. I typically start thinking about 5″ increments and then go from there. Personally I went with my high side increment. I was in the 15-20″ thought process (average amounts). I got concerned because IF what I think could happen the 1st half of December happens…then I wouldn’t have enough “leeway” for the rest of the winter snow season. Even as late as this afternoon I was wondering IF I should drop my totals back to 15″…so it’s certainly on my mind right now. IF this pacific flow really is the big winter player for the season…then we’ll be lucky to get 10″ of snow…why because again while there may be storms around…the cold air will be a major no show in the Plains to be tapped into when the storms visit the region.

With that said…IF we don’t get much snow by Christmas this year…I think I’m going to be too high with my forecast. I agree with Mike that this Pacific flow which is breaking for awhile in DEC may be an issue for parts of the winter season.

So my confidence levels play out like this right now (to be updated on the 1st day of winter perhaps)….

Greater than 15″ of snow: 60%

LESS than 15″ of snow: 40%

Overall I personally think temperatures will be above average and precipitation (despite the dry fall) may lean towards average to above average. I do think there will be pronounced warmer periods and pattern flips to some sustained mildness over the next few months (though mid March). 

I think in the end…we’ll be saying this is a more typical winter for KC…that means a few snow days for the kids…occasional slick roads…some ice issues…and ALSO days when I can go out and at least hit some golf balls on the driving range…and perhaps even get a few rounds of golf in as well. I DON’T think that this will be like the winter snows of a few years ago. 2009-10…2010-11 or 2012-13…but for snow lovers hopefully that new snow thrower that you bought DURING those snowy times will get used a bit this winter.


Finally on this Winter Forecast Weather Blog…some snapshots taken by those who follow my thoughts on Facebook.  

I wanted to end this blog on the beautiful sights that winter can reveal to all of us. I know there are a LOT of you who hate the snow…the driving…the frustrations of dealing with it…the shoveling. I totally get it. Maybe though for just a few minutes on a cold snowy day this winter you can look outside and marvel at some of the “beauty” of winter (assuming it’s not another very brown winter in KC :) )




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